Tuesday, December 9, 2008

jimmy carter vs. the worms

i first saw this on saturday... i didn't get around to writing about it then, but it's been making me giggle every time i see a caduceus on signs around town ever since. share the mirth, right?

it really sort of sounds like a comic superhero sort of battle, but jimmy carter has a death warrant out on a parasitic worm that grows up to three feet long in humans and has to be painfully, slowly reeled out when it blisters through the skin. nick kristof blogged it on saturday when carter announced that we're down to 5,000 cases worldwide. it's looking likely to be the first disease in history eradicated through behavior change, without the use of vaccines or a cure. proper water filtering techniques do the trick. jimmy carter's winning.

if you go from there to the wikipedia article on guinea worms, the story gets even cooler. seriously, beyond the usual getting public health aide workers into remote areas to educate people and hand out filters... carter's negotiated ceasefires to fight these things.

i don't recommend an image search for the queasy of stomach.

the caduceus connection? according to wikipedia, the caduceus (and the less commonly used but probably more correct staff of asklepios) may actually have evolved from a picture portraying worms wrapped around a stick, not snakes. guinea worms. the still-standard medical treatment involves wrapping the worm around a stick or piece of gauze as it's extracted, so theory goes that the symbol comes from a picture of one of the services offered by ancient doctors.

so now every time i see a caduceus, it's not just "doctor's office here." it's "hah! humans are winning this one!" go jimmy carter.

1 comment:

Aaron V. said...

I like that little piece of modern culture, thanks for sharing!